Monday, December 5, 2011

Collapse of the Point & Shoot Market?


Read today that the Smart phones are killing the Point & Shoot Market.  Glad I didn't invest.

We need better housings than bags to shoot underwater.  We also need good, simple, $20 rubber grips to use the iPhone single handed on land as a camera.  The iPhone is really difficult to handle one-handed as a "real camera."  $150 Iron Maiden attachments with lenses exist but are overkill.

Monday, November 28, 2011

LIGHTROOM - Getting Tone Curve Sliders back

Light most Adobe products, LIGHTROOM works in "strange and wonderous ways."  This best tool we have for organizing photos is sometimes a "challenge" when editing.  Another case in point is using Tone Curve to edit contrast in a photo.  Tone Curve acts somewhat like Curves in Photoshop.  I discovered a feature the other night that I did not know existed.  Nor did Adobe give an informative way out without combing the depths of the Help Jungle.

When editing a photo using Tone Curve, the slider controls look like this. The default mode.

During a session the other night, I was presented with the following view without consciously doing anything to change the view.  The sliders DISAPPEARED.

I was not a happy.  There is NOTHING obvious to suggest a toggle command or "go back."

When I did a mouse-over on the Linear ICON, this informative message shows:  "Click to stop editing Point Curve."   I did not know that I had started! It should say "return to Slider Mode."  Photographers are clearly not used in Adobe testing, just programmers.

The way to get out of this mode is simple but not obvious: Click the icon at the bottom right and you will be toggled back to "Slider" mode.

By the way, using the Point Curve mode is not bad at all.  It is very much like Photoshop in that you can add points to the line and bend the curve to change contrast.  Here I added two points and shifted their positions to adjust the tones to my liking.  See more on curves here.

Click here to see the Great White Sharks and the rest of the underwater galleries.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Being able to swim with big animals is one of the great pleasures of being a Diver.  Humpback Whales, Whale Sharks, Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks, Manta Rays, Sea Lions, Sea Turtles and Manatees are all a thrill to dive with.   Obviously, the Great White Shark presents some challenges since they are the apex predator.

is one of several reliable locations around the globe where you can predictably and safely dive with Great White Sharks.  A population of about 120 sharks visit the island from about July to year end.  Diving operations end around November.  The sharks migrate to Hawaii and other locations during the rest of the year.   Surprisingly, there is much more to shoot there. 

Guadalupe island is about 22 x 6 miles and is mountainous, being composed of two extinct volcanos.   It has a very low population being declared a biosphere reserve. Guadalupe Island has a microclimate that tends to burn off clouds that are around the island.   Visability at Guadalupe, perhaps 190 feet (calculated via boat length and anchor line to 60’) and water temp 64 to 70 degrees F.

Not being reckless or a daredevil by nature, the idea of diving and photographing Great White Sharks from the safety of a strong cage was very appealing.

BOAT SPECIFIC – This article is based on experience on the Nautilus Explorer.  The tips will be most useful for shooting at Guadalupe Island.   The Baja Aggressor and other boats diving these waters appear to offer similar cage logistics.  Other Great White destinations such as Australia or South Africa, will require modifications to the techniques and equipment needed as the animals, local customs, visibility and cage configurations vary.

Fly to San Diego – meet at the Ramada Airport hotel via shuttle bus.  At the hotel, store your equipment and have lunch / dinner (no dinner on the boat this night). Photograph the shore birds at the extensive Marina area.

San Diego to Ensenada Bus Ride
Meet the bus around 7pm ish for the 2-3 hour ride through customs stop in Tijuana to Ensenada.  Board the boat around 11pm in Ensenada for the 20 hour ride to Guadalupe Island, about 200 miles off shore.

Theere are two SUBMERSIBLE cages are maybe 15 feet tall, double decker affairs.  Very well constructed out of 2 inch diameter aluminum tubes and strong (steel?) grates on the bottom of the cage.  There are backup SCUBA units to supplement the surface supplied air.  The cages are winched up and down to 40' via lines and there are backup ballast tanks for independent ascents. 

Getting into the cages requires a little, easily learned maneuvering wearing a 40 lb harness.  Divemasters assist entry and use of the Hookah.   Divemasters also control the ascending and descending of the cages and generally ride in a semi exposed position on the top of the cages.

There are two cages attached to the stern of the boat that do not change position.  They have surface supply and can fit three people.  One is about 7-8 feet deep and the other is about 15’ deep with a semi-exposed entry “tunnel / ladder.”    These are great for testing equipment and settings and getting more action in-between submersible cage dives.  These are really the only place you can attempt Over/ Under shots.  I was not at all comfortable with the idea of doing this with the 15’ Cage. 

You should have some situational awareness that you need to keep your arms and legs inside the cage for obvious reasons.  These are the “big hungrys” and are not as docile as Reef White Tip Sharks.  Can a shark stick its snout between some of the bars?  The answer is yes, but they are too big to enter the cages.

There are two man and four man Submersible cages.   The two man cage is the better to be in from a logistic standpoint.  You will be rotated around and have opportunites in all the cages.  Try to ask the divemasters on the departure night to schedule you with non-photographers or small camera/video folks.   Four photographers in the same cage with big cameras and strobes would not be a comfortable situation.

 When the action gets active, you may be joined by the divemaster from the top.  Using surface supplied air, the lines can get tangled and you may want to use a free hand to hold the regulators to avoid tugging or pulling out of your mouth. 

Situational awareness is needed when moving around the cages.  You don’t want to hit the other divers with your housing or strobes.  On our trip, we found that sharks tended to circle in a clockwise fashion around the cages, so you need to be aware of coiling your hose.  Circle back and turn the opposite direction when the action cools down to be sure you are keeping your lines free and not coiled.

There are four dives offered each day with the activity and numbers increasing toward the end of the day.  The earliest dive may have one shark from a distance, and the last dive have multiple sharks making close passes.  You never know, this is the ocean and not a zoo but there are trends.  Yes, that is an upside down Sea Lion taunting the shark in the photo below.


Over three days, the sharks were window shopping on the first day and more cautious, on day two, they were taking test bites of the cages and ramming the cages on day 3.  You never know, this is the ocean and not a zoo.

LENSES – Get close, but not too close
Get close, then  closer is the U/W photographer’s mantra.  Lens choice is a challenge given the behaviors described above.  Be prepared to change lenses or zoom settings frequently.  On earlier dives and earlier in the morning, you may want to go with longer focal lengths like a 35mm equivalent of a 35mm lens.  On an APS-C size sensor, this is the equivalent of about 22mm on a Canon 10-22 lens or about 54 degrees when using a dome port. 

You will want to vary this if your controls allow depending on the behavior of the sharks.  You may start the day at 22mm and as the sharks get bolder, you may use 15mm in the middle of the day and 10mm at the end of day when they are very close to the cage.  Maybe too close.

I used a Tamron 11-18 at 18mm half the time and a Tokina Fisheye set at 17mm half the time.

Click here for more shots from the trip.

Click here for the Trip Logistics,

In the next post, Part 2, we'll discuss using strobes, "Hail Mary" shots, Going "Up Top," Video Opportunities, Developing the Shot List, Diving Equipment and the Cast of Sharks.



This picks up from Part 1 with some more technical discussion. 

To strobe or not to strobe, that is the question.  On this trip, strobes both enhance and detract.  They enhance because at 40’ they add the natural color when the sharks are closer than 10 feet.  They detract because they pose a logistical decision when the action gets going as you will be slamming the strobes into the cage bars as you whirl around trying to get the right angle and they will slow you down.  You don’t want to be bashing your buddies or more likely, pulling out regulators from other divers.  This will not make you popular. 

When using strobes, you will need to be flexible on position, sometimes setting them above the lens to accommodate the bar positions.  Other times you will need to set them below the bar depending where the shark is.  If you are not skilled at positioning your strobe arms, you will get frustrated.  Two strobes are recommended because on half your shots, a cage bar will be blocking one strobe.

I generally shoot on manual and tend to use 1/60th of a second for shutter speed and  f/8 or 5.6 depending on distance.  ISO 100 whenever possible.  ISO 400 when things get dark-ish.

You might choose to use strobes early in the trip and for the last dive of the day as the sun will be setting.  For the fast action dives, you will most likely want to go without strobes.  JUST REMEMBER TO CAP YOUR BULKHEADS and cords when removing the Strobes to prevent floods and corrosion!

For available light exposures,  I will shoot at 1/60th and switch to Shutter priority (Tv) mode due to differing lighting conditions when shooting fast.

“HAIL MARY” shots
A "Hail Mary" is where you point the camera in the basic direction and hope/pray for the best.  I probably shot 1/3 of my underwater photos by pointing the housing in the general direction of the shark, not using the viewfinder due to the rapidity of the action and anticipating where the cage bars were and where the shark was going to be.   Viewfinder or not, I always pre-focus for a half a second or so, then hit the shutter at the “decisive moment.”  This reduces the shutter delay or time parallax. 

For upward angles, I stuck my hands out of the cage and pointed the camera up.  You always need to be mindful of the shark positions.   “No surprises” awareness is good way to keep your hands and camera.  Situational Awareness.  When a third shark arrived, I did not even consider this maneuver.

There is at least one another way to beat the issues of the cage bars.  Go up top with the divemaster.  Let’s give that a moment to sink in.  The divemasters are very experienced piloting the cages in a semi-exposed part of the cage.  It is not without risk. 

You can get clearer shots, but I declined due to valuing my skin more than the off chance of impressing some editor somewhere.  That is up to you and I especially DON’T recommend using strobes on top.  In the event of a suddenly active shark, you need to get down the cage bottom quickly (tight logistics like a submarine conning tower).  Strobe arms could easily get caught going down, perhaps putting the divemaster’s intact condition in jeopardy trying to follow you down.

VIDEO OPPORTUNITIES – “Camera on a stick.”
The new Go Pro video cameras are a stunning breakthrough in small technology.  Using these cameras on a short three foot monopod stick is ideal for beating the cage bar blues.   On two dives, I used a Canon G-9 and got some nice footage.  Click here to see the YouTube post.

SHOT LIST – here are some suggestions:

·      Shark Head Shot
·      Full portrait
·      Shooting the other cages with the shark
·      Shooting upward / down
·      Distant approach and retreat
·      Cage test bite
·      Cage attack sequence
·      Two or more sharks in one frame
·      Huge schools of the Rainbow runners and the boat
·      Divers in the cage / different angles
·      Cage Geometry
·      Rainbow runners inside the cage
·      Sea Lions – Surface,  Underwaters and Coastal Tour
·      Tuna individuals and Wolf pack hunting
·      LIMITED OVER/UNDER Opportunities - Patience
Coastal tour of the beach life “BEACH” PHOTOS / NO GOING ASHORE ALLOWED  (Bring a long lens, perhaps 400mm) ELEPHANT SEALS  & GUADALUPE FUR SEALS
·      Around the Boat
·     Great SUNRISES / NO SUNSETS due to the height mountains.
·     Ensenada Harbor  - Sea Lion colony on arrival back at port.


I prefer a Black Skirt Photographer's Mask that prevents reflections and distractions.

7mm full wetsuit, boots, gloves and Hood or drysuit.  Mares 2/3mm gloves provided ideal dexterity vs warmth.  Water temp down to 63 F at depth of 40.’  Dives last 40 minutes or so and you will get chilled.  Expect four dives a day with unlimited time available in the surface cages.

Leave the following at home:  BCD, Regulator, FINS,  (optional - SNORKEL could be of limited use in the shallow cage if all hoses are being used).  Snorkels will get tangled in all the other cages – mostly useless and a hazard.  Macro is useless.  If you can use a macro lens on these sharks, you are TOO CLOSE.

Ship supplied Hookah (Surface supplied hoses with SCUBA in cages as backup)

You are supplied 40 lb DUI harnesses.

Click here to see the gallery of the seven individual sharks.

4 Females:
1.     Large, “clean” unscarred shark with cleanly TRIMMED Right Pectoral fin
2.     Ragged Left Pectoral fin (notched)
3.     Dorsal fin flaking in two spots, tagged and distinctive gill slits
4.     Caudal fin has spot roughly looking like Italy

3 Males:
1.     Bump on Nose, caudal fin dot
2.     Dorsal tag at top of fin, shark looks beat up.
3.     Two spots on ventral side

Click here for Part 1 of this article.

Click here for the Trip log

Click here to see the Shark Galleries

 Click here to see the YouTube post.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NOTE TO SELF: Full Frame Sensor Prices


We need to do a post on Full Frame Sensor Prices.  Specifically as they relate to DSLR pricing.  Seems like the Canon 5D Mark III is way too late and not much has changed in this technology according to Moore's law in the last three years.  Given the drop in storage pricing, big sensor pricing ought not to be far behind.  Hmmm.

But still...APS-C ought to go the way of the flood - ASAP.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Retaining Lightroom Metadata when transferring between computers

It is hard to remember all the features that Photoshop and Lightroom have.  Adobe Products are not exactly known for being intuitive.  There is nobody at the head of Adobe that is driving simplicity and ease of operation.  No Steve Jobs.  No one with his passion for ease of use.  No one with a name to stamp on a concept.  Indeed an entire corporation, Kelby Training, has formed a cottage industry in trying to explain what the Adobe Enginneers cannot.

Back to Metadata.  A simple IMPORT on the Desktop from Lightroom WILL LEAVE ALL METADATA AND ADJUSTMENTS BEHIND on the source computer (laptop).  I sometimes forget that to retain the Metadata, like Keywords and adjustments that you input on the road (using a laptop)  you need to combine or merge catalogs.  The following is from Adobe's webpage:

Combine or merge catalogs in Lightroom

You can create a catalog from existing photos in Lightroom by selecting the photos and exporting them as a new catalog. Then, if desired, you can merge the new catalog with another catalog. This is useful when, for example, you initially import photos into a catalog on a laptop computer and then you want to add the photos to a master catalog on a desktop computer.

  1. Select the photos you want to add to the new catalog.
  2. Choose File > Export As Catalog.
  3. Specify the name and location of the catalog.
  4. Indicate whether you want to export the negative files and previews, and then click Save (Windows) or Export Catalog (Mac OS). “Negative files” refers to the original files that were imported into Lightroom.
    The new catalog contains the selected photos and their information. You must open the new catalog to view it.
  5. (Optional) To combine catalogs, import the new catalog into another. See Import photos from a different Lightroom catalog.
The keywords for this one are: ascending, attacking cage, cage, Great White Shark, GUADELUPE ISLAND, Mexico, Nautilus Explorer, Pilot fish

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I had been having issue with Bridge crashing, hanging and otherwise taking forever to access my files.  After some research I found this for BRIDGE CS4 & CS5.

Click here for the Adobe solutions.  Applies to both Mac and Windows.  The prodedure takes a while, so be patient based on how many files have to be cleaned.  I would suggest doing the procedure when you don't need Bridge so it is free to take as much processor power as it needs.  It will grap a LARGE portion of CPU power if available.

There are SEVEN fixes listed, but my issue were resolved by a simple procedure to RESET PREFERENCES and CLEAN THE CACHE.

CAUTION: YOU WILL LOSE YOUR COLOR LABELS.  In my case they were all turned    WHITE.  

No doubt, there will be other ININTENDED CONSEQUENCES I have not identified and Adobe has not flagged.

Best of luck.

Used Bridge and Adobe Photoshop CS5  to produce one of my new t-Shirts yesterday. Orchid shot with four lights.  Order if you like.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Adobe LIGHTROOM 3.5 Failing Grade

Grrr.  Adobe is updating Lightroom to include new cameras and doesn't fix serious issues with version 3.5.  I barely use the develop module anymore.  I switch to Photoshop.  Using Mac Lion, develop can't retain cropping, takes forever to load and is a general waste of my time.

AWFUL noise is still persistent using the tone curve adjust in Lightroom.

Upgrade grade:

Note to Adobe: hire me part time as a true release tester. 


Friday, September 30, 2011


Guest Post from my buddy Dave Haas on copyright DMCA TAKEDOWN NOTICES.  Dave is the guy to get Ikelite Underwater photography equipment from.


An interesting read on a newer law specifically related to the internet theft of your images.

Worth bookmarking!

David Haas
Haas Photography Inc.
4596 Greenlawn Dr.
Stow OH 44224

Sunday, July 31, 2011

HOT SHOE Innovation - Part 2

Picking up from the last post, we were getting ready to modify the Cheap Strobe Mini-stands so they will allow a secure mounting to a location Speed Ring for a softbox, such as the Chimera shown.  The Hot shoe mount that came with the Speed Ring is awful and practically BEGS the strobe to fall off unless extreme care is taken to exactly align the strobe.  The distractions and thinking on your feet of working on location do not allow for that.

Here is the end product goal.  A SECURELY mounted strobe with the sensor available to an optical transmitter like the Canon ST-E2  Line of sight is not necessary with a Wireless radio transmitter.  For simplicity, the Softbox is NOT SHOWN.

Looking at the Cheap Mini-Stands from the previous post, here is our goal:  Use a hacksaw or Electric Jig-Saw to easily trim the edges of the plastic ministand to fit on to the Speedring Flash arm.  This is why modifying the metal Canon ministand is not recommended.  This is the top view.

Bottom view.  You want to make the cuts as close as possible with out ruining the INTEGRITY of the tripod mount or show itself.  Here is the bottom view.  I used the close-in plastic rails as my guide to keep them intact.  They call it a hacksaw for a reason.

Voila, the Secure Hot shoe is attached to the flash arm of the Speed Ring and is ready for the Strobe to be mounted securely.  Note the angle can be changed to the left or right depending on the location of the Master Strobe or Transmitter.

My preferred location strobe is the Canon 580 EX.

HOT SHOE Innovation - Part 1

Mounting an external flash (like a Canon Speelight 580 EX) on a light stand is not as simple a proposition as it might first appear.  There are standards that Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Pentax use.  This is ISO standard ISO 518:2006.  Click here for the Wikipedia reference.

After suffering a strobe nose dive and subsequent repair, I noticed that various light stand and hot shoe fixtures that are widely marketed are absolutely SUB STANDARD. The following do not have registration holes for the strobe shoe locking pin and will easily allow the strobe to fall out of the shoe.

The following have a 1/4 inch mounting screw on the bottom and DO follow the ISO 518 standard with registration holes.  The Stand on the left is the Canon Mini Stand that comes standard with the strobe and is made of Metal.  The stand on the right is a Chinese knockoff from E-BAY and is cheap plastic.  BUT in this case, that is good.  So these are good for having spares.

The plastic stands can be found on E-BAY for $2.29!

Here an ISO Compliant stand replaces the non-compliant hot shoe on a small ball swivel I use on a background light stand.

Now here is the bonus:  the plastic stands can be EASILY MODIFIED with a HACKSAW to fit on a SPEEDRING.  That is coming up in PART 2.

Check out my portrait gallery to see the lights and stands in action.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More SIGMA Lens Problems on Canon DSLRs

Error 99 is a well known issue with SIGMA lenses on Canon cameras.  Cost me about $100 to fix that one from disabling my Rebel using the Sigma 35 - 200 due to a bad lens chip.

I was out shooting Manhattan recently with my 50D and Sigma 18-200mm and found that it was "HIJACKED."  By that I mean, uable to change the shutter speed in Tv mode, unable to change the shutter speed in M mode, unable to see shutter speed in Av mode.

Thinking I was having to send the camera back for repair, the Error 99 experience made me suspect the lenses.  I put on the Sigma 50 1.4 and no change.  I then put on my Canon 70-200 EF IS and VOILA - the problem was FIXED!  Each time I turned off the camera and turned it back on again to "Reboot."

So I am suspect of the combination and reliability of Sigmas lenses with Canon cameras.  After the Canon lens fix, I tried my Sigma 18-200mm and it worked again, but for how long.  We will see how Sigma responds.

 Here is my Midtown view from my Night Gallery using my Canon 70-200mm.

I am serously considering either of the following:
Canon 24-70mm EF L f 2.8  or the Canon EF L f/4 24 - 105.  Neither is ideal for APS-C size Sensor as has been outlined in previous posts by this author.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


In doing the Hawk Picture nearby, I sadly was reminded of the differences between the capabilities of two packages.  Lightroom version 3.4 was announced today.  Don't know if it solves this problem.  It wasn't obvious in the press release.

Here is the first image of the hawk, done the deliciously quick way using Lightroom's adjustment brush.

BUT... there is a catch...Using adjustment brush in Version 3.3 adds the hideous artifacts below upon close examination, especially if you need to go toward the midrange of tones or further.  Completely unacceptable performance.  I HATE HAVING MY TIME WASTED.

This was edited using CURVES in PHOTOSHOP CS5

Here is the closeup.  Major difference.  San Jose, we have a problem.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How to Photograph Hawks

How to Photograph Hawks.  A brave title.  Luck is involved.  Timing is involved, preparation of batteries and cards is assumed.  OK, the basics.  YOU MUST have a 400mm or better lens on a fast acting, fast focusing D-SLR.  Image Stabilization is important and "dual mode" stabilization may make the difference.  I use a Canon 70-200 with a 2X converter on Mode 2 setting.  Set on IS Mode 2 to account for the camera swing as you follow the bird.  Mode one assumes you are still and folllowing a still creature with a slow shutter speed. 1/500 is a minimum shutter speed.

Here the hawk, caught at 9:00 am in Staten Island, clutching a thouroughly executed prey bird is headed back to the nest in an arresting sight.

Go at least one stop overexposure compensation to account for the bright sky.  In Photoshop, will need to enhance the feather tone.   Point and Shoot users, sorry you are out of luck for flight, but don't give up hope.

Still, good shots are still possible.  STALKING skills beat shooting skills here.  Knowing bird behavior and a sense for their "spook distance" are critical for getting in range.  Change position.  This is likely the same bird above, hours after the catch above.  While shot with the same lens & Camera combo above, the bottom shot could easily have been taken with a long zoom EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder / Interchangeable Lens) Camera or a PowerShot SX30 IS Digital Camera with its long zoom.

Here is my Bird Gallery.

To buy Birds Shirts, click here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


In my Photographic Creativity course, "A Whack on the Side of the Head" by Roger von Oech is one of recommended reads.  Here's why.

I often hear folks say "I'm just not creative."  Nonsense.  Creativity is a process, and any process can be repeated and learned.  You just need practice and good coaches. 

Right off the bat, I like von Oech's first premise: Creativity is Mental Sex.  "It's a lot of fun...indeed I like to think of creative thinking as the "sex of our mental lives."  (Page 5 of my edition)

Some chapter titles:
1. The Right Answer
2. That's Not Logical
3. Follow the Rules
4. Be Practical
5. Play is Frivolous
6. Tha't not my area
7. Avoid ambiguity and so on up to chapter 16

Obviously, von Oech has a fine sense of sarcasm as he explodes all myths behind all the rules we have been "taught" by our teachers, managers, or other "handlers" in life.

Photographic creativity is NOT the cental thesis of the book, but the concepts are crucial, like Cross Fertilization on page 104.  I am always on the alert for life's surprises.  For inspiration for Underwater photography, I look to other masters for ideas, rather than trying to repeat the work of the Nat Geo Bubble-Blowing legends.  Likewise, Land photographers may benefit from studying the work of the Underwater Masters.

A lot of my creativity lately has been going into the design of t-shirts.  Click here to buy one.

 Click here for some other shots I consider creative.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


We gave the presentation on basic Editing last night.

Click here to get the best Amazon price on Photoshop Elements.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Digitizing your Slides and Negatives

NOTE : Photos are appearing fine on Safari.  Other browsers are rebelling.

This post is meant to inspire you.  Using a Digital SLR with Macro Lens and Strobe to copy slides and Negatives is perhaps the fastest way to get your film based images onto your hard drive.  It is considerably faster than using a Digital Slide Scanner.  Resolution of the image is likely to be higher than a scanner since you are using a DSLR.

Assemble the parts shown above into a configuration that make sense for your camera model.  DO NOT use a cheap optical slide duplicator from E-Bay, because you will not be satisfied with the results.  The package below is ready to copy, just add a strobe.


Here is one configuration using a camera mounted strobe shooting into a white reflector.  You can use a strobe extension cord and shoot directly into the lens as an alternate setup.  That is the one I use.  I dedicated a "clamp lamp" as a focusing light as shown.  You can keep it on when the strobe fires.

Set your camera on Manual and experiment with exposures, bracketing exposures until you are satisfied with the results.

Once you are set up, you should be able to shoot three exposures within 30 seconds.  Don't forget to dust your slides and negatives.

At the beginning I said inspire you.  If you are still unsure about the process and want detailed instruction, check out my one-on-one, on-line / over the phone Seminar.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Creativity Seminar Book Recommendations

I am giving a presentation on CREATIVITY in U/W Photography on Saturday at the Beneath The Sea Conference at the Meadowlands.

 The link to the handout for the seminar is here.

A lot of it is inspired by one of my mentors, the late great Galen Rowell, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.  I will be recommending these books:

Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography

The first third of the book is worth its weight in gold.  While some is based back in the film era, this is absolutely the best thing I have read on being a photographer.

 Galen Rowell's Vision: The Art of Adventure Photography

An earlier companion volume to the one above.  Also has tons of nuggets compiled from his time as a columnist at Outdoor Photographer magazine.

Henri Cartier-Bresson Photographer: A compendium of the great master of the "Decisive Moment."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Photoshop Auto Save - Electric Iris Trial Update

On Feb 27, ONE WEEK AGO, this space posted a wish list for Adobe Product Bug Fixes and Feature updates. 

Part of that mentioned a trial for a product I was using, PsdAutosSaver by  I just got a notice that my ONE MONTH TRIAL has expired.  No problem but that is incorrect. It has only been one week.   Bug in the programming.  I was opening a photo from Lightroom to edit in Photoshop on my Mac and Photoshop crashed after getting the error message from Electric Iris.  I sent a crash report to Adobe and Apple.

I re-did the same sequence and Photoshop crashed again after getting the same warning from Electric Iris.  Being the sharp knife in the drawer that I am, I trashed the PsdAutosSaver program and VOILA, problem fixed.  Bug in the program.  I wasn't about to buy the program to continue to do the Alpha testing for the company gratis.

In the week that I was allowed to try PsdAutosSaver, the results were inconsistent.  Sometimes it saved a backup copy, sometimes it didn't.  If I worked on JPG, it would create a HUGE .PSD file that did not show my changes, so it does not do what I had hoped it would do.   If you are using Lightroom, backup files are automatically saved because when opening Photoshop from Lightroom,  it creates a duplicate file, leaving the original untouched.

Adobe, I still want an adjustable Automatic Autosave feature that allows me to set the timer from 1 minute to 30 minutes.  Default version is set to ON at 10 minutes.  Preference to adjust the timing or turn off if the Autosave becomes a pain.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Photo Rescue Using Photoshop Curves

Sometimes, shooting circumstances are just not ideal.  Case in point, shooting a singing Humpback Whale.  It is not every day that you get to do this.  If you find a singing whale at all, it is likely to be very deep and you will probably be snorkelling, not using SCUBA. There was no option to handoff the camera to free diving champion Tanya Streeter.   Here is the shot and it needs rescue.

The tones are muted because it breaks every rule in the book: 1. far away from the subject, 2. shooting down, 3. not using strobes, but they would be ineffective at that distance anyway.

Here is the multi-step fix.
NOTE: it is helpful to have a good understanding of using the LEVELS command first.  Recommended resource: Photoshop CS5: The Missing Manual by Lesa Snider.

Press Command + M (Mac) / CTRL + M (Win)  in Photoshop (NOTE: Photoshop Elements does not have this tool).  This is the initial Histogram:

Drag the control points to fix the Black Point and White Point at either end.  The result is shown below.

Click OK to "register" this initial correction.  The Photo will look like this and much improved.

Reopen Curves by pressing Command + M (Mac) / CTRL + M (Win).

"Finess" the control line by first adding one control point and SLOWLY experiment by dragging the line up or down and around for the darker tones, on the left until the picture looks better.  Add another control point for the lighter tone on the left and SLOWLY drag up and down and around.  The result is the S-Curve shown.

In the photo at this point, the Suns rays are more visible and the contrast is better, and you can better see the clumps of coral on the bottom over 150 feet away and the white tail flukes are closer to the true white tint.   Click OK to register the changes.

Now for the final touch, reopen Curves.  This time, Click on the Channels dropdown box and select blue since the predominant color is blue.

The BLUE channel shows severe deficiency in the shadows and darker tones.  So slide the black point to the right until the photo is improved. 

This shows Histogram after correction.   Click OK and save your work.  At this point you could work on the RED and GREEN Channels but they are inconsequential in this particular photo as those parts of the spectrum are naturally filtered out by the depth of the water.

The final rescued photo of the singing fifty-five foot whale.  Worth the work!

Catch us at the BENEATH THE SEA conference at the Meadowlands Expo Center.  We are presenting the seminar on the Humpback Whales of the Silver Banks on March 26th at 2pm.

Click here to see more of my underwater favorites.